R.I. commissioner approves 2015 health insurance rates
R.I. HEALTH INSURANCE Commissioner Dr. Kathleen C. Hittner on Thursday announced the approved 2015 insurance rates for Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island, UnitedHealthcare of New England and Tufts Health Plan.
COURTESY R.I. OFFICE OF THE HEALTH INSURANCE COMMISSIONER
PROVIDENCE – Health Insurance Commissioner Dr. Kathleen C. Hittner has approved lower 2015 premium rate increases than requested by Rhode Island’s four health insurance companies for several individual, small group and large employer plans.
In the small group insurance market for small businesses, Tufts Health Plan had requested the lowest increases, 4.5 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively, for Tufts’ HMO and PPO plans, and Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island requested a rate decrease of 1.8 percent. Hittner approved the Tufts and Neighborhood Health rate changes as requested.
The two other insurance carriers for small businesses in Rhode Island, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island and UnitedHealthcare of New England, were approved for rates slightly lower than what they had requested. Blue Cross premium rates will increase 5.2 percent next year, while UnitedHealthcare’s HMO and PPO plans will each increase 9.6 percent.
In the individual market, Hittner approved Neighborhood Health’s proposed 7.3 percent rate decrease, and revised the Blue Cross rate increase from 8.9 percent to 4.5 percent. UnitedHealthcare entered the individual market for the first time in 2015.
“I want to thank Dr. Kathleen Hittner for continuing to push for lower premium increases than requested by the state’s top insurers,” said Lt. Gov. Elizabeth H. Roberts in a statement. “Through the state’s ongoing health reform efforts, we will continue down the path of decreasing costs, creating even more affordable coverage in the years to come.”
Individual Market Base Rates (2015)
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island: $341.68 (requested), $328.25 (approved)
Neighborhood Health Plan: $288.99 (requested), $288.99 (approved)
UnitedHealthcare of New England: $298.77 (requested), $298.77 (approved)
* Average rate increases for large group customers.
“Thanks to the health reform efforts of the Lieutenant Governor’s office and HealthSource RI, the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner’s rate announcement today reflects more competition in Rhode Island’s individual insurance market,” said Hittner. “Instead of only one insurance carrier making plans available to all Rhode Islanders, now there are three carriers in the market.”
In the course of approving rate increases for 2015, the health commissioner’s office also reviewed each insurer’s contract to ensure that the plans meet benefit, access and cost-sharing standards established by state law and the Affordable Care Act.
Rising medical costs – including the price insurers pay providers for particular services and the number of services members use – remain the primary driver of health insurance premium increases, the commissioner’s office report said.